Craig Murto

Craig Murto

Summit Point Motorsports Park in Summit Point, West Virginia, celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2019, and you can attend races this weekend free of charge.

The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) hosts the first Mid-Atlantic Road Racing Series event this Saturday and Sunday, and just as last season, spectators can attend and even camp overnight without paying anything.

The idea is to generate interest in SCCA racing. The SCCA hopes that spectators will become interested and want to be involved.

Even if you have no interest in climbing behind the wheel of a racecar, SCCA also needs volunteers for various duties around the track. It takes a lot of people to put on a successful race weekend, and they are all volunteers. Any of the workers at a Summit Point SCCA race weekend will gladly help you obtain information if you want to get involved.

But even if you have no desire to do anything but sit and watch, you can’t beat the price! And it really motivates racers when they see fans lining the course to watch them perform. Just be sure to get to the track by about 9 a.m. each day so you don’t miss any of the on-track action.

Visit www.summitpoint-raceway.com to get an idea of all the events the track has scheduled for its 50th anniversary year. If you like motorcycle racing, drifting, or want to take a safety course, there will be all types of motorized activities at the facility’s three circuits throughout the year.

If road racing is not your thing, Dominion Raceway in Thornburg opens its season of NASCAR racing on Saturday night with a 100-lap Late Model feature as the headlining event.

Winchester’s Sergio Pena will return to Dominion Raceway, expected to run full-time in the Late Model division this season in hopes of winning the track championship.

Pena, 26, once was part of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program after winning the track title at Shenandoah Speedway. He first made a national impression about 10 years ago with his second-place effort behind Joey Logano at the Toyota All-Star Showdown in Irwindale, California, after starting on the pole. In 2010, he competed in the K&N Pro Series East for his rookie season. Prior to NASCAR, he was part of the Formula BMW series, so he has plenty of road racing experience.

In 2010, Pena drove for John Story’s Revolution Racing Chevrolet team, finishing 12th in the K&N East Series standings with three top 10s. He won three times in 2011 and finished fifth in the series. Pena competed in his third K&N East season in 2012, then ran a limited NASCAR touring schedule in 2013, before returning full-time to the K&N East Series for 2014. He collected his fourth series win at Columbus driving for Max Siegel, and a couple years ago took a one-off K&N ride to victory on the road course at Virginia International Raceway near Danville.

In recent years he’s competed in a Miata at Summit Point, where he also worked as a driving instructor. It’ll be good to see him behind the wheel of a stock car again. Pena is definitely an example of a driver whose talent exceeds his wallet’s ability to buy his way up the ladder.

Charles Leclerc proved that he deserves his high step up the ladder. The 22-year-old first-year Ferrari Formula One driver became the second-youngest pole winner in F1 history at Bahrain. Then he nearly won the race until a late-race mechanical issue forced him to settle for the final step on the podium.

Even race winner Lewis Hamilton praised Leclerc’s performance. Obviously, Ferrari knew what it was doing when it put Leclerc in the seat, replacing former World Champion Kimi Raikkonen. Leclerc may be a force in the sport for years to come.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race in Texas was actually interesting and competitive. Still not the pack racing some believed we’d see in 2019, but until the final round of green-flag pit stops, the top cars never drove too far away from each other. And it was obvious that if cars raced side by side, they punched a huge hole in the air which allowed following cars to use the draft and join the battle.

It’ll be interesting to see how the new aero package works at Bristol. Be sure to record the Bristol races so you can watch them when you return home from whichever racetrack you visit this weekend.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.